Wednesday, December 13, 2023

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending December 13, 2023

WBTV and The Assembly conclude their three-part series on the failure of family policing with a searing story about how the agency and the courts moved heaven and earth to keep a loving father away from his own son. 

And if you think this is a case in which a stranger foster parent is fighting the father – nope. On the contrary, the foster father was so supportive that when the family police tried to use housing as an excuse to keep father and son apart, the foster father bought a house so the birth father could rent it at a price he could afford. 

The true level of contempt for families is summed up by one incident. Remember, family police agencies are supposed to conduct intensive searches to find relatives to care for these children.  But here the family police give away what really happens.  When the agency sought to persuade the foster parents to adopt, here’s what the foster father says he was told: 

“Family will come out of the woodwork when we do this.  [But] We’ll handle them for you.” 

Meanwhile, the child has been moved to his fifth foster placement.  Caseworkers report that he’s regressing and he blames himself for not being with his father.  He is upset that he “could not be good long enough to go home.” 

● More than 20 years ago, in the landmark class-action lawsuit known as Nicholson v. Scoppetta, both state and federal courts told New York family police agencies that no, you are not allowed to tear apart families just because a mother is, herself, a victim of domestic violence.  (NCCPR’s Vice President was co-counsel for plaintiffs.)  

Among the reasons: 

--Research shows the trauma caused to children when they’re separated in these types of cases is even worse than the trauma in other situations.

--Research shows the trauma of removal in such situations is worse than any trauma that may be caused by witnessing domestic violence.

--Fear of family police coming to take away the children deters women from seeking help – and abusers know it. 

The practice was curbed, but never fully stopped.  And now, it seems, the family police in New York City (the main target of the original suit) have decided that, well, maybe we can’t take the children, but we sure can harass the mothers!  So now there’s a new lawsuit. There’s a good story about it in the Daily News and here’s the press release from the lawyers bringing the new suit. 

● Still, New York City is ahead of most states including California where, CalMatters reports, various officials and advocates wallow in ignorance concerning the research and continue to support inflicting this needless trauma on the children of battered mothers.  

● But New York is not ahead in every way.  New York’s governor decided that, when it comes to whether a judge should allow children any continued contact with their parents after their rights to those parents have been terminated, she knows better than the lawyers who represent children in these cases, the head of New York City’s family police agency, older adopted children themselves, and the judges themselves.  So, as The Imprint reports, she vetoed a bill to allow judges to make such decisions.  It’s the third time since 2019 that governors have caved-in to the state’s powerful middle-class adoptive and foster parent lobby and vetoed the bill. 

WJBK-TV Detroit and Fox35 Orlando report on Detroit grandparents fighting for custody of their grandchildren in Florida.  At first, the grandmother says, Florida family police said yes, and the grandparents rushed to Florida.  Then, they say, the family police changed their minds – and offered no explanation.  Now the grandchildren are split among different stranger-care homes.  A seven-year-old even had his phone taken away because, the family police reportedly said, he was calling his family too often. 

● Here’s a shocker: A state family police agency is promising to obey the law!  The Arizona Republic reports that: 

The Arizona Department of Child Safety soon will no longer investigate reports of marijuana exposure in newborns — as long as the parent has a medical marijuana card and there are no other allegations of risk to the child. 

The shift in policy, scheduled for next month, could affect scores of pregnant women. It comes in the wake of a state Court of Appeals ruling that found Arizona's medical marijuana law protects such use because the patient is under a doctor's care. 

Of course, the agency can go right on harassing families where the marijuana use is recreational or where there is other drug use that poses no threat to the child.  

● When even Colorado’s child welfare “ombudsman” – whose many failings are discussed in NCCPR’s Colorado report – says a county family police agency is biased and the state’s investigation amounts to a whitewash, then you know the agency is biased and the state investigation is a whitewash.  KUSA-TV has the story. 

● There have been years of court hearings, orders and, in one case, even a settlement and a declaration of victory.  But things in Texas and Tennessee are as bad, or worse, than ever. I have a two-part Blog post about the failure of the McLawsuits brought by Children’s Rights and A Better Childhood. 

In this week’s edition of The Horror Stories go in All Directions: 

From the Altoona Mirror: 

Clearfield County has asked a federal judge to block a subpoena for child welfare records involving three young adults who were placed in a Clearfield County foster home 15 years ago but who are now contending their placement unlawfully deprived them of their familial relationships while growing up. 

The young adults include Matthew, Rebecca and Isaac Krause, who, in a civil complaint, say they were removed from their Altoona home in 2008 by police as a way to pressure their parents into cooperating with an ongoing drug investigation. 

The now-adult children state they were never returned to their Altoona family and noted they were subject to severe physical and mental abuse by the foster parents, Barbara and Timothy Krause. 

From The Imprint: 

A jury in Northern California has awarded nearly $25 million to three siblings who were sexually abused by a foster parent, compensation that attorneys for the children describe as some measure of accountability for the assaults they suffered. 

And from Law and Crime, the headline says it all: 

Foster mother indicted — again — for allegedly ignoring dying, disabled teenager coughing up blood after first murder charge dismissed.